Handbooks of Research Methods in Management series
Edited by Fergus Lyon, Guido Möllering and Mark N.K. Saunders
Chapter 23: Measuring the decision to trust using metric conjoint analysis
Conjoint analysis is a quantitative technique for capturing the utilities, preferences, understandings, perceptions, beliefs, or judgments of decision-makers (Arkes and Hammond, 1986), and ultimately for identifying the relative contributions of attributes and their levels to decision-makers’ actions (Hair et al., 1987). Its name is derived from the two words ‘considered’ and ‘jointly’ (McCullough, 2002), which together capture its fundamental use characteristic – an individual making a decision (for example, addressing a trust situation) based on multiple attributes that must be considered together. Because conjoint analysis examines the decision-making process by asking trustors actually to make decisions, rather than by relying on the theories or processes trustors say they use in retrospective accounts, it provides trust researchers with the ability to capture the ‘theories-in-use’ (Argyris and Schön, 1974) of trustors, instead of their ‘espoused theories’. These ‘theories-in-use’ represent the underlying cognitive processes that drive a trustor’s decision to accept vulnerability in particular trust situations. Despite the potential of conjoint analysis for examining trustors’ decision processes, the technique has seen sparse use in trust research. In the sections that follow, we first discuss why conjoint analysis – a quantitative technique for studying decision making – might be useful for trust researchers.
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